In the world of Android you might often hear people talking about custom ROMs and custom kernels. After reading this post you will know what exactly a custom ROM is and why people choose to use custom ROMs. Also you will know whether you would want to run a custom ROM on your Android device.

What exactly is a custom ROM? A custom ROM refers to a phone’s firmware which is basically a customized form of Google’s Android platform. Now if Google developed Android and custom ROMs are not made by Google, then the question is ‘Who makes custom ROMs?’ Well, the answer is simple. Android being an open source platform allows anyone to develop code or edit it which allows people all over the world to contribute to the development of these custom ROMs. So this way a ROM has a large community of people working on the same ROM and debugging it to constantly improve it. The best part is that people do this purely out of passion and interest in the same. Any user can access this code and use the firmware developed by them for free and can also contribute to it if they want to.

Now how is a custom ROM better than the firmware which comes installed in a phone out of the box? Here are a few reasons for you to consider getting a custom ROM:

  • As we know, many manufacturers create their versions of Android by applying their own ‘skins’ of the original firmware which seems cluttered and not so appealing to many. But people still want to buy flagship devices from these manufacturers even though they don’t like the skins. The best you can do is install a different launcher, but that does not help remove the customization put by the manufacturer. To get the stock Android look and replace all the manufacturer’s customization with the clean Android system, you’ll need to install a custom ROM.

  • When you buy a new phone, it often comes with a lot of pre-installed apps which cannot be uninstalled. These apps are called bloatware and they just clutter your system and use up disk space on your device. A custom ROM does not come with any bloatware and contains only those apps which you need. This minimalistic form gives you a smoother and snappier device.

  • Custom ROMs come with some interesting features and enable you to tweak your device according to your taste. Things like customizing your status bar, hiding or enabling an on screen navigation bar, over clocking or under clocking your device are made easy through a custom ROM. Root access can also be given in custom ROMs. Apart from these, there are many more customization possible in custom ROMS.

  • Certain custom ROMs come with custom kernels which make the device smoother and helps it perform much better than it would otherwise perform. An example would be the NuclearRom which comes with the Radioactive kernel. A good kernel can help save battery and make the device snappier.

But even then, you might want to consider a few more things before switching to a custom ROM. Custom ROMs are not perfect and often come with bugs which have to be found and fixed. Certain aspects of your device may not work perfectly, since the firmware hasn’t been tested by your manufacturer and carrier. Custom ROMs may not completely support your phone’s hardware, for example your device’s camera may not work as well as it did earlier.

Your battery life may be less if the custom ROM isn’t optimized perfectly for your device. Most importantly, the process of installing a custom ROM voids your warranty for most devices. Also you should know that if you do something wrong while flashing your custom ROM you risk rendering your device inoperable. This is rare but can happen if you aren’t careful enough and is referred to as “bricking”.

For those of you who are still interested here are some of the most preferred custom ROMs available for download:

  • Lineage OS ( A derivative of the famous CyanogenMod)

  • AOKP

  • Paranoid Android

  • NuclearROM

  • Resurrection Remix

  • Dirty Unicorns

  • BlisPop

And many more…

If you think you want a custom ROM for your device then check the XDA developers forum for your Android device and find custom ROMs developed specifically for your device model. Be sure to find a custom ROM which appears to be stable and is well-supported if you do choose to take this route.

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